We’ve seen a number of Volkswagen Golf models and variants since the car’s original debut in 1974. Unfortunately, many of them never made it to our shores.
That’s the case of the Golf Country, based on the second-generation Golf and built in Austria by Steyr-Puch in the early 1990s. It was designed for off-road driving and thus enjoyed a lot of success in the Alps. Heck, you could call it a pioneer of modern crossovers. With all-wheel drive, increased ground clearance and rugged looks, this model used essentially the same recipe as the now-departed Golf Alltrack.
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Also included were brush guards at both ends, skid plates under the engine and transmission, and a spare tire mounted on the rear hatch. The 1.8-litre four-cylinder generated 98 horsepower (or 114 in GTI trim).
A small Italian company by the name of Biagini soon secured the rights to develop a one-of-a-kind offspring called Passo. Starting with the chassis and powertrain of the Golf Country, they added the reworked body shell of a first-generation Golf Cabriolet and borrowed the headlights and taillights from other manufacturers.
According to Volkswagen, it’s not clear how many Passos were built; some sources say 300, others, well less than 100. A vast majority ended up in junkyards due to severe corrosion.
Will we ever see anything like that again? In Europe, Volkswagen now offers the T-Roc in drop-top configuration, but rest assured that won’t be the case of the new sub-compact VUS coming to Canada. As for the fancy ID. BUGGY electric concept, don’t count on a production model.